Postal Union leader: I hope the strike victory sends a message

A widespread series of strikes started by postal workers is over, with the unions claiming a win over employers.

File picture of striking postal workers, Helsinki, 12th November 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

The leader of the Finnish Post and Logistics Union PAU says she hopes the recent strike action sends a message to other employers who might be considering cutting costs by moving the collective bargaining agreements of workers – especially low paid workers – from one union to another.

“I think the employers have to think very carefully if they are going to do these kind of things” says Heidi Nieminen, speaking after the two and a half week strike came to an end on Wednesday.

“I hope in the bigger picture it sends a message to anyone who tries to do this” she tells News Now Finland.

The PAU emerged largely victorious in drawn-out negotiations with Palta, the union representing employers Posti, Finland’s state-owned postal service.

The 700 or so Posti parcel workers had been facing the prospect of weakened terms and conditions of service, and in some cases pay cuts between 30% and 50%.

None of those cuts will now happen.

File picture of PAU Chairperson Heidi Nieminen / Credit: PAU

“They have the same conditions and they won’t lose money or anything like that” says Nieminen, adding that there will be some changes to occupational health care benefits however.

The initial strike had gathered considerable support from the public, even as sympathy strikes impacted flights at Helsinki Airport, the HSL transport network in the capital region, and some international ferry services.

“I got so much thanks and so much support, and a lot of messages from all over the country. Not only from postal workers. I think it was so many people in different areas and it was great” Nieminen says.

One of the strategies of the PAU union was to put the workers most affected by the change in collective bargaining agreements at the heart of the strike campaign.

“We said to postal workers before the strike, we said we need your stories. We have to tell people what is happening to you. It’s not enough that I am telling them, we need to see the faces of the people who are going to lose their wages” Heidi Nieminen explains.

“It’s not easy to come to the public and say it’s me who is getting my salary cut, but the workers had to tell their stories.”